One of the greatest obstacles we must overcome is the challenges faced in storing electricity made from non-reliable sources, such as wind, solar or tidal energy. These sources already produce energy that is above the rates people want to pay, so if it is not used, it presents an even bigger problem with getting utilities on our side and developing these resources. There have been some tremendous efforts in recent years to store energy for later use, harnessing it when it is needed at another point. Yet on demand electricity like this is still one of the greatest hurdles to climb going forward.
For generations utilities have been plagued by a lack of storage for grid electricity, forcing companies to attempt to follow demand with fringe sources, such as natural gas, coal or other technologies. Only nuclear, coal and natural gas can successfully load follow demand. Beyond that, even with these sources, its neither efficient nor as cost effective as it could be to do so. There is always some significant parts of electricity being generated which is never used. Power companies would love to be able to store this for longer periods and release it on demand later.
A number of technologies already exist that can storage electricity, from capacitors, to mechanical storage to batteries. All have their advantages and disadvantages, but few are ever economically competitive in the current marketplace. The greatest challenge faced in this field is to make the viable, and energy dense enough utilities would want to use them – while maintaining a good degree of economic advantages, long term stability and fast response times. In this we will be discussing some of the most promising technologies as well as outline the progress they have made so far in this area, and what they could potentially accomplish in the future.
Battery (Chemical) Storage
One of the most promising and easiest for people to understand is the use of batteries to store energy. However, there are some major reasons these have not taken off for grid electricity. They are quite expensive (1000-15,000 US dollars per KWhr of capacity) and have a finite number of cycles they can operate in. Technological progress in this area has been painfully slow as well, further compounding the problem.
A solution that’s been proposed and tried so far, is to use NaS chemical exchanges. By initiating a chemical reaction between two pools of material they can store energy and release it later (thousands of times). It’s also a lot cheaper than most battery technologies with similar cycle life. There are still many problems, such as Na salts being highly flammable in air and the baths need to be kept at 300 °C, also the batteries will suffer permanent damage if allowed to discharge completely.
Uphill Water Reservoirs
A novel idea is to pump water uphill and then allowing it to flow down again, similar to a dam. The need to store electricity derived from wind and solar is greatest in areas of Northern Europe presently, where countries like Denmark produce around 20% of their electricity with offshore wind. Pumping water from there up to a storage area of later use could be a potentially excellent solution, however, similar to battery storage this is fraught with issues.
In order to even take advantage of this possibility, the location will need to be close to where wind is producing electricity, but also needs to be high up and mountainous. These areas seldom occur in the same place, making it tremendously challenging to effectively do this today. In addition, efficiency from this process is quite low. Electricity generated is used to drive a pump which in turn drives a turbine later. Turbines for hydroelectricity are not particularly efficient compared to heat driven steam generation. As a result, you lose about 70-80% of the energy in this process once its used later. Still, given the complexities faced by battery based storage systems this could be a viable option in the future. These dams also are quite damaging to the environment to build typically.
Fondaterra promotes methods to store all electricity however is economically feasible, given the scale of this problem and how much of an impact it could have on our ability to maintain resources in the future.
It’s certainly not a surprise that we need a very healthy agricultural sector in our country in order to maintain a high degree of security, health among our population and availability of important diet staples. The lack of any one of these things could result in tremendously negative outcomes for our populous, so it’s important to support this sector. Our landscape relies heavily upon our stewardship of it, not only for these reasons, but for the very social fabric of the countryside and those farming communities.
We face an existential crisis that transcends generations among this community. Those from the newer generations do not wish to work out in the fields, or on their farms, and instead are moving into urban areas. This has been a problem for France now for nearly a decade, and appears it will persist for some time as well. Many initiatives that Fonda Terra supports, such as the Energy Waste program, can help change this for the better. Using our community of farmers as a forward thinking group, which will hopefully result in many more leaps forward in the years to come. New technologies like anerobic digestion, which turns waste from farming into fuel, offers new engineering challenges that we hope will pull talented individuals from the cities and back into our countrysides.
The Rural Action Program
There is a shortage of housing in many rural areas that proves affordable for people that live there. This can cause huge consequences that are difficult to quantify, but young people in particular almost always will leave the area to seek more affordable housing, which typically means apartment dwellings in more urban areas. This has led to huge reductions in the available workforce, nearly no new expertise being created for farm hands and laborers, as well as farm owners, and a lack of skilled workers in rural towns. A lack of workers has many results, but the most severe is the reduction of health care, food services, communication services, and transportation for rural workers. Its our hope that an affordable housing initiative, called the “Rural Action” program will be launched to help combat this.
This initiative centers around encouraging local businesses, property owners, and developers to enter into these areas to build affordable housing and help maintain the area and provide them the workers they need. This is not an easy task, but with three core objectives: connection consumers with rural issues, improving sustainability of farming communities and provide healthcare for these areas, they hope to achieve positive growth in workforce and skilled laborers in the rural countryside. This is something France desperately needs in order to achieve long term health and future security.
The Goal of Our Rural Outreach
There are several major goals we hope to achieve from the rural outreach program. Reducing five key areas are what is most important, and will identify the success of this initiative. Dealing with: rural isolation, low incomes from farming, declining population in rural communities, lack of training access, and healthcare. These tasks require top down solutions from our government and wide scale support in order to properly address them. What this means is that our leaders will need to take on this effort at the most basic level, and promote it directly with proper funding, motivation based incentives, and proper investment into our rural communities.
These things are never going to be easy to achieve, and they will require some serious commitment on the part of our leaders and in these communities themselves. Yet, we believe it’s possible for them to achieve solid outcomes and maintain a high standard, if proper commitment is given. Rural communities are culturally strong, and motivated to stick together. For these reasons we feel it’s clear that this is achievable.
Humanity is on the verge of something tremendously difficult to overcome. Will we continue to pursue “cheaper” energy that also will eventually cause us a great deal of harm? This is the question the world faces over the next 40 years, and it’s one that no one really has an answer to. We must make this decision in a way that preserves our ability to produce and manufacture things at an economical price, but also one that won’t wind up sacrificing our future and children’s future in the process.
This has been the biggest policy issue of the 21st century, with politicians appearing on all sides of the argument, mostly with their own vested interests. What does this mean for the common person who wants to make an impact? It means that it’s almost impossible to have a voice that carries any weight. That’s where organizations like Fonda Terra step in. Our goal is to provide a voice to the average person through our political invoice, public policy strategies and growth centric investments in our communities. By creating green options around us, people can take their own steps forward and discover how easy it is to adapt to this lifestyle.
Our Paris Bike Initiative
One of our recent construction projects was to provide electric scooters to universities in the area. Starting with Versailles, we have how built out hundreds of free electric scooters that students can rent for up to one hour. This helps people get used to a more mobile, cheap and safer way to travel that’s not really any more expensive overall than using a gas scooter. Electricity is far cheaper in Paris than gasoline, so these offer a great option in lieu of these climate harming transportation methods.
Our Wind Initiative
Nuclear power in France is plentiful, and is a really green solution for electricity needs. Not only is it a lot cheaper than our neighbors, but it’s completely emission free. Yet a lot of the excess (the remaining 25% of our electricity that isn’t nuclear) winds up being fossil fuels. One of our biggest pushes right now is to incorporate wind energy to make up some of this fringe need during peak times of the day. Right now most of this comes from natural gas, which outputs an enormous amount of CO2.
Finding an alternative to these damaging policies is what we’re all about. Through the introduction of sound fiscal reimbursements for nuclear and other renewables that are not burdensome to the taxpayer, through loan guarantees for example, Fonda Terra hopes to provide value to utilities as well as their customers.
The challenges that our most important to use over the next several years include, boosting funding to these renewable projects to make up the extra part of French power that’s required beyond nuclear. Promote more nuclear power initiatives with the present government to replace the aging infrastructure we have. We still strongly believe in the future of France’s role in nuclear energy, and it providing such a clean alternative to fossil fuels. These are expensive infrastructure projects at the start, but last for nearly 100 years and have the capability of providing much more clean energy than any other source. Not only that, they’re way cheaper than alternatives for the EU.
With these goals in mind, we will charge head first into the foray with your help. Together we can change France and Europe for the better and greener.